HARVARD SQUARE COMMENTARY

March 19, 2007
Harvard Square Observer

Noam Chomsky vs. Empire

Ernest Cassara


A few months back, my wife and I climbed onto a bus headed to Harvard Square.  After we had seated ourselves, I looked across into a familiar face.  I asked myself, and then My better Half, “Is that Noam Chomsky?”  No, it is unlikely that he would be on this bus.  But, then, I said to myself, “Well, why do I say that?  I have not seen him in more than fifty years, when both of us were members of BAFGOPI, The Boston Area Faculty Group On Public Issues.  The public issue we were concerned with was the Vietnam War.  Then, I corrected myself.  I have not seen him in person all of those years, but, I have seen him on television, most notably when he was debating that loudmouth Alan Dershowitz.  And, anyway, I haven’t the slightest notion of where he resides, so, he could very well be on this bus on the way to MIT.

My wife, the activist in the family, tiring of my mumbled musing, did the sensible thing, crossed the aisle and discovered that it was not Noam Chomsky,  but Jon Waklyn, whom we, indeed, had not seen for many years, since we had lived in the Washington area.  He and I were the prime movers of the Chesapeake Chapter of the American Studies Association.  So, after many years, we now see each other from time to time, he now living not far from Harvard Square.

Aside from Noam Chomsky’s great contributions to linguistics, about which I know nil, he is one of the leading lovers of the U.S., trying desperately, against great odds, to keep our country on the straight and narrow.  Uppermost on the pile of books  next to my Morris Chair is Chomsky’s Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance.

While reading this book, I have pondered whether it is possible for any country to gain great power and NOT to attempt to dominate others.  Having taught American history, and loving the period of the Founders, I have hoped against hope that it is possible.  If we can avoid what, I fear, is inevitable, it will be because of stalwarts such as Noam Chomsky.  He has gone from strength to strength in his campaign against the neo-cons and their influence over America’s leaders.

I heartily recommend that you read this book.


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